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MOTD: Leicester City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
This was the night Tottenham Hotspur asserted their place in the big six of the Premier League. They had already faced Leicester City twice in the past week, tying 2-2 in their FA Cup meeting and losing 1-0 in a league fixture over the weekend. Tonight, Spurs finally showcased their quality in a comprehensive 2-0 victory over the Foxes. Son Heung-min came up with a goal and an assist to drive Mauricio Pochettino’s men past Leicester and into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.
Leicester, it seemed, were unable to get back onto their feet after Son’s go-ahead goal and perhaps Claudio Ranieri’s pre-match comments predicated the result. “It is a crazy league because, if it was a normal league, Leicester would not be at the top,” he said. “The other bigger teams would be there. But there is an opportunity for us because the big teams don’t start yet. If they start then Leicester will fight but we would be in the middle (of the table).”
Tonight, Tottenham was up and fighting, and Leicester were indeed outmatched. Ranieri, however, seemed willing to let the FA Cup go and focus on their astonishing league campaign by leaving their three brightest players, Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki, and Riyad Mahrez on the bench.
Pochettino, on the other hand, gave Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane and Dele Alli rests, but otherwise fielded his starting eleven and brought the latter two players on as substitutes. Son naturally stepped into a starring role, scoring a beautiful first half goal and assisting Nacer Chadli’s second half winner to wrap up the contest.
Spurs began the contest on top, with Son and Christian Eriksen working well together up front. The former cut the ball back to the latter on thirteen minutes to set up a mis-hit effort from a good position from fifteen yards out. Gokhan Inler curled a twenty-five yard free-kick on goal for a routine save for Vorm down at the other end, but both sides were cautious in the opening half hour.
Tottenham’s first shot on target didn’t come until Son smashed home the opener in the thirty-ninth minute, gaining a yard of space on his man to smash the ball past Kasper Schmeichel at the goalkeeper’s near post from the edge of the box.
In the fifty-second minute, Leicester teenager Demarai Gray forced Vorm into a good save to his left with a wicked, dipping effort from the left side of the box, and flashed promising signs throughout the ninety minutes. Yet Spurs effectively shut down Leicester’s front-line and after Harry Kane saw a low, driven effort tipped wide by Schmeichel, Chadli put the game to bed with a second goal.
Following a Spurs throw-in down the left and a quick sequence of passes, the ball fell to Son twenty yards out from goal and the South Korea international slipped a lovely reverse pass into Chadli’s run. A cool, low finish eased Tottenham into the next round of the FA Cup and completed their defiant rally following two disappointing results earlier in the last seven days.
Homepage photo credit: Pioeb [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons